Nigel Owens is a Welsh International and Heineken Cup rugby union referee. He was the only Welsh referee at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups and the one chosen for the prestigious 2015 World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia. Nigel has refereed 6 european cup finals and holds record for most test matches refereed which is 81 to date.
Born and raised in a small village in South Wales Nigel Owens was appointed as an international referee in 2005, and that year officiated his first international between Ireland and Japan in Osaka. Nigel made his World Cup debut in Lyon in 2007 when he refereeing the Argentina vs. Georgia game.
He is only one of two referees ever to be appointed to referee two consecutive Heineken Cup finals: Munster v Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium in 2008 and Leicester Tigers v Leinster at Murrayfield in 2009.
Outside of sports, Nigel is also one of the presenters on S4C’s ‘Jonathan’, a rugby-themed Welsh language chat show hosted by former Welsh international Jonathan Davies. He also co-presents the sports-themed Welsh language chat show ‘Bwrw’r Bar’.
In 2007, Nigel publicly came out as gay in an interview with Wales on Sunday. Having struggled with his sexuality most of his life, Nigel said that this announcement was a difficult one for him. Shortly after, he was named ‘Gay Sports Personality of the Year’ at Stonewall’s awards ceremony. In 2011, Nigel was made a member of the Gorsedd of Bards at their National Eisteddfod in Wrexham. Furthermore, in 2013, he became a patron of Bullies Out charity in Wales. Working hard to kick discrimination out of sport, Nigel was recognised for his efforts again in 2015 when he was honoured for the second time by Stonewall and named ‘Gay Sports Personality of the Decade’.
In 2016, Nigel’s services to sport were recognised in the highest order as he was appointed a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. The same year he was awarded an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University.
Nigel is an extremely popular and entertaining after-dinner speaker, able to share stories from his vast sporting career or to talk more candidly about diversity and the LGBTQ community.
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